Blue Light – The Harm Hiding Right in Front of You
At this point it’s clear that exposure to the sun without adequate SPF protection can lead to many skin and health issues. Even beyond the real risk of an increased chance of skin cancer, we can also count on increased fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots or hyperpigmentation. It’s clearly essential to use sun protection daily.
As we’ve shifted into remote work and school routines, we’ve found ourselves spending more time indoors. You might be surprised to learn that there’s another type of exposure that can be just as harmful as direct sunlight – blue light exposure. Found in everything from screens on our televisions and phones to LED and fluorescent lights, blue light exposure is now being regarded as more and more concerning. Researchers are finding that continuous exposure to blue light is one of the root causes for skin damage, such as increased hyperpigmentation and uneven dark spots.
At All Good we’ve crafted products that not only protect you from harmful UV Rays, but also work as a physical barrier to blue light, also known as HEV (high energy visible) light. In order to thoroughly understand the impacts of blue light to our overall health, it’s important to understand it better.
What is Blue Light Exactly?
When we think of light, it’s important to note that all light, both visible and invisible to the naked eye, exists on a wide spectrum. The range of light that we can see produces what we know as “white light” or most commonly known as “visible sunlight”. Blue light or HEV light is a shade on the spectrum known for exerting larger amounts of energy than other visible lights. It’s often associated with violet light, a stronger spectrum of light most noted for the risk it poses to our skin. Since this light is effectively less noticeable to humans, it makes it harder for us to monitor our exposure when compared to sunlight.
In the past our exposure to blue light was most often associated with the outdoors, but as recent studies have been finding this source of light is found lurking all around us indoors, too. Blue light emitted from electronic devices can be significantly affecting our well-being. Made of approximately 450nm and 495nm, it is one of the shortest and highest energy wavelengths.
Where is My Blue Light Exposure Coming From?
As a critical part of our light spectrum, HEV light can be found in our daily dose of sunshine both visible and invisible. However, it is also present in a variety of items that make up our daily routines, including:
- Laptops & Computers
- Smart Phones
- Fluorescent and LED Lighting
How Does Blue Light Affect My Skin?
Because it has a higher energy charge than that of other colors, blue light produces a stronger effect and delivers more and deeper radiation to exposed skin. UV Rays are powerful enough to produce changes on the skin that often lead to a sun tan, and are a well known beneficial contributor of Vitamin D. However, when exposure is not limited or protected, these rays can lead to extensive sun damage or even skin cancer. Similar to UV Rays, it has powerful energy emissions, comparable to the sun, but we often don’t even notice it. Imagine you were sitting in the sun without protection all day, but had no way of knowing the damage it was causing and hadn’t taken any precautions.
Repeated exposure to blue light can lead to unbalanced changes in your skin cells affecting elasticity, melanin production, and overall health. From cell shrinkage to cell death, exposure even as short as 60 minutes can result in measurable damage. Uneven hyperpigmentation (age spots) has also been a documented increase caused by blue light exposure. Clinical studies have shown evidence of increased pigmentation, though the underlying causes are still unknown.
What product ingredients are the best protection against blue light?
Though zinc and iron oxides provide physical barriers to blue light, it’s important to note that a combination of the below ingredients can enhance and provide overall sun protective and skin nourishing properties:
- Zinc or Iron Oxide
Zinc Oxide or Iron Oxide found in mineral sunscreens work as a protective barrier as they reflect, scatter, and physically block light. Iron oxides provide enhanced protection against HEV or blue light, especially when combined with zinc oxide, according to results of a new study in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. All Good’s mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxides, while our tinted sunscreens and Lip and Cheek Tints combine both zinc oxide and iron oxide.
In one study, the addition of antioxidants to a sunscreen led to a 78% reduction in the number of free radicals produced after irradiation with visible light. Even more impressive, antioxidants alone reduced the amount of free radical damage in a similar way. The most effective antioxidants include vitamin C and E. A combination of both vitamins provided very good protection from a UVB exposure.
- Natural Oils
Green Tea Oil is an abundant source of plant polyphenols (micronutrients that naturally occur in plants) that exhibit significant antioxidant, chemopreventive, and immunomodulatory effects in protecting the skin. Olive oil and Coconut oil have UV protective properties with a natural sun protection of up to SPF 8, capable of blocking 20% of the sun’s UV Rays for a duration of approximately 80min. Olive oil is rich in skin boosting antioxidants, encouraging cell repair from skin damage, while coconut oil also locks in moisture and can reduce inflammation and calm redness. Raspberry seed oil offers similar protection with a natural UVA + UVB coverage, while also combating sun damage and photo aging and fighting age spots and wrinkles. Buriti Fruit Oil helps lighten dark spots caused by sun exposure, and is also rich in Vitamins A and E for healthy cell reproduction. Sunflower Oil improves skin’s hydration and has linoleic acid that helps maintain the skin’s natural outer layer.
- Other Ingredients
Aloe functions as a radioprotective agent against UV Rays by stimulating skin and assisting in new cell growth. Calendula also protects the skin with natural SPF and helps maintain the natural smooth pigmentation of the skin. Shea Butter is naturally SPF 3-4, and includes significant amounts of Vitamins A and E promoting strong antioxidant activity.
How Does Blue Light Affect My Body?
Research is continually uncovering the long term effects of blue light as we increasingly spend time in front of screens. In addition to skin damage, it also has been linked to adverse effects on:
Exposure has been linked to daytime fatigue, eye strain and dryness. It has even been reported that excessive exposure can lead to more dangerous eye problems, such as damage to your retinas, which can affect your vision permanently. As the day goes on, blue light can also cause itchy eyes, headaches, and fatigue.
Effects can even be observed inside the body as evidenced with Blue light’s association with interrupted sleep cycles. Because it mimics sunlight, blue light can upset the body’s biological clock, a rhythm set by the amount of light and dark the body is exposed to repeatedly over time. Our bodies are wired in such a way that when they recognize sunrise or sundown, it triggers our system to begin internalized actions of waking or going to sleep. With the inconsistent use of phone screens, computers and televisions, we interrupt this natural cycle, sending mixed signals to the body of when to rest.
- Mental Health
Most troubling of all, blue light in conjunction with all the above effects can lead to changes in our mental health. Drawing from a study of mental health among young adults, the results showed an overall 37% increase of reported mood disorder symptoms when regularly exposed to blue light. As this article concluded from the study, “sleep disruption is also a classic symptom of major depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety and other mood disorders.” Although not completely linked to blue light, the disruption to our natural sleep cycles and constant exposure to screens may lead to the development of further mental health effects. As we weigh the benefits and drawbacks of our exposure to this light source, it’s clear that we should take steps to limit our exposure to blue light and protect ourselves.
How Can I Protect Myself and Loved Ones From Blue Light?
Begin by assessing your screen time. How much time do you spend on your phone? If you work from home, do you often find yourself at the computer everyday? Take inventory of your usage and determine how much is absolutely necessary. For times when you must be in front of screens, it’s a good idea to protect yourself through blue light filters and blue blocking glasses. Additionally, opting for dim red lights (lower on the spectrum) can help both mood and sleep, as they have less effect on melatonin levels and your natural sleep cycle.
Protecting your Eyes
One of the most affected features from blue light includes our eyesight. As digital eye strain becomes more common with work from home measures, the importance of safeguarding your eyes is more relevant than ever. A legitimate component of blue light safety, blue light blocking glasses can help sharpen your focus, reduce eyestrain, and lead to improved sleep schedules. A study in 2017 reported participants wearing the glasses showed about a 58% increase in their nighttime melatonin levels.
Why Should I Be Using Sunscreen Indoors?
It’s important to note that traditional chemical sunscreens are ineffective at blocking blue light. Mineral-based sunscreen products like All Good’s, are not only better for you and the planet, but they offer true protection against blue light. Given that we spend so much time in front of screens, it’s important to treat your daily interaction with blue light as if you’re out in the sun all day. Make sure that your sunscreen choice obstructs from not just UVA / UVB but also blue light, since it works as a physical barrier to block that light source.
All Good Has You Covered
With the rising concern for blue light exposure, All Good is committed to ensuring long lasting coverage and well-being to your complexion. Providing UV protection as well as blue light defense, All Good has got you covered from tinted sunscreens to indoor beauty essentials.
With sunscreens ranging with an SPF of up to 50 and Lip & Cheek Tints with an SPF of 15, our products ensure you’re protected for your daily activities. Keeping a small container of mineral sunscreen by your workstation or bedside can be a great reminder to keep applying, even when not going outside. Using a combination of these products will not only ensure your skin’s preservation, but also get you camera ready for any conference call the day brings!
In summary, blue light is a largely unavoidable part of our daily lives both indoors and outdoors. It is possible to reap the rewards of blue light while mitigating the risks. As we continue to expand screen exposure into our daily routines, below are some key takeaways to consider:
- Blue light is stronger and penetrates the skin more deeply than other sources of energy found on the light spectrum
- Blue light is not only found in our natural light spectrum but also a large array of electronic devices and lighting
- Extensive blue light exposure can disrupt our sleep cycle, cause eye problems, skin damage, premature skin aging and uneven pigmentation
- Reduce blue light exposure by limiting screen time and using blue light blocking sunscreen daily
- If you experience constant eye strain, dry eyes, or headaches, consult with your doctor or optometrist to see if blue light blocking glasses are a good option for you
- Opt for red lights or reduced light filters on your electronic devices to minimize sore eyesight and improve sleep quality and mood
- Using mineral sunscreens like All Good sunscreens and our Lip & Cheek Tints with SPF can help with blue light protection, ensuring daily coverage for both indoor and outdoor activities